It is another wrinkle in what has become a messy bed for the CFL, Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the CFL Players Association.
On Thursday, an Ontario Superior Court of Justice overturned an arbitrator’s decision that Chris Williams’ contract with the Ticats was binding even though the team violated the league’s collective bargaining agreement.
In June, arbitrator E.E. Palmer found the Ticats violated the CBA by negotiating with an unregistered agent, but determined the team would be penalized through a fine and not the termination of the contract.
The CFLPA followed Thursday’s ruling with a statement, saying the talented receiver is “now a free agent and able to sign a contract in the NFL or another CFL club.”
The Tiger-Cats then issued their own statement: “We will be seeking leave to appeal this morning’s decision in the Chris Williams case. Our position remains that Williams is under a legal and binding contract with the Tiger-Cats. We have faith that the outcome of our appeal will validate that position. We plan no further comment at this time as the matter remains before the courts.”
The fact of the matter is, Williams is in a lose-lose situation.
Not only does he remain unemployed on the football field, he has severely hurt his stock going forward.
I don’t see any NFL teams lining up to get a player who hasn’t played a down since last November, especially considering they are about to make their final training camp roster cuts.
And as talented as Williams is, I’d be shocked if any of the other CFL teams show interest in signing Williams — should he indeed become a free agent — given the fact that he wants to play in the NFL.
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating, Williams should have played out the final year of his contract with the Ticats… let the team know about his NFL aspirations… and then make the jump down south.
Instead, not wanting to get hurt or have an off year on the field, Williams took the long way around the block.